So we’re walking to Rees’s orientation and I remember that this is not an American School event, that this is a CSI event, probably in French and probably for the whole incoming 4ème étage (8th grade). It also occurs to me that parents weren’t exactly invited. I remind Rees of this, and as we approach, despite the strike, we see there are hundreds of 13year olds gathered outside the gates to the school. It’s on.
The kids are all in little groups and every now and then a girl will arrive and squeal as she sees her friends for the first time since the summer break. Rees and I joke about this a little bit, how it is just like at his school back home and he can imagine certain girls he knows doing exactly the same thing. And then we imitate the boys, “hey,” “hey,” trying to be all cool and low key.
So anyway, there are no parents anywhere and it is clear that I am really not someone to be seen with. We scope it out a bit and don’t see anyone we recognize from the American school. We are, unfortunately, about 15 mins early, so we head to our post across the road that we used the last time we were early.
So we sit. Kadin is all settled, now it is Rees's turn. My stomach is a bit fluttery, I can only imagine that Rees’s must be tying itself in knots. I mean hundreds of 13 year olds is intimidating in any language.
5 minutes pass, 10. We talk a little bit about the plan.
Pretty soon, the gates are going to open and the kids are going to go through into the courtyard. Rees is going to go with them. He has his carnet, but his picture and schedule are not on it. We are not sure what he needs to do to get through the gates today.
And then, once through the gates, what next? There will probably be some sort of announcement—in French. Will he understand it? Since we did have a meeting last week with the American school, he has met the head, the administrator, the math teacher, and the French teacher. That would be 4 people he might recognize. The meeting last week was only for new students and out of the 6 grades there were only maybe 1 or 2 in Rees’s class and we can’t remember who they were.
I have an insurance form to drop off at the office. I need to go through the glass doors, not the gate. So that is our plan. I will nonchalantly walk through the glass doors and he will independently walk through the gate. He will look for someone he recognizes and hope for the best. I will be nearby, and he knows where I am going.
The gates open and we walk independently across the street and into the school through our respective entrances.
I find the office of the head of the school and give her my form. I tell her I just dropped Rees off and she confirms that that is fine. I confirm that the orientation ends at 5pm (three hours later) and she says it does. I haven’t really made plans to meet Rees after, but whatever, we’ll figure it out at the time I guess. If he doesn’t know the way home, he’ll look for us.
So as I leave the school I see all the students are going in in little groups led by teachers. Somehow they got organized and found their places. I look for Rees, but I don’t see him. I guess that is a good sign? Then, when I am outside the gates I see a group of students from the American school led by the administrator I recognize. I see Rees and he is talking animatedly to another boy. He is not that far away, so I call out, “See you at 5!” He doesn’t hear me. I think maybe I should call again just to make sure he knows the plan, but then think better of it. He’s made a friend already. He’s doing fine. Go Rees!
And three hours later I go to pick up Kadin at Carina's while Greg goes to meet Rees, then Kadin and I walk over towards Rees’s school. And there they are, on their way home and Rees has a spring in his step and all is well. He has a draft of his schedule and is looking forward to starting school on Thursday. Of course, he failed to mention to anyone at the school that his draft schedule and everything else he saw had him down as Rees TRUCKER. Too funny.
Wow, that couldn't have been easy. I am so proud of him.